Black bear hunting restrictions tightened
By By Thomas J. Baird, Las Cruces Sun-News
Oct 24, 2003
The state Game Commission has limited black bear hunting for next year in an effort to help what it deems to be diminishing bear populations throughout the state.
Commissioners voted 4-2 Wednesday in favor of the limits that eliminate bear hunting with hounds in August in about half of the state and caps the number of bears that can be killed overall at 336.
“The limits represent what we feel is best biologically for the animals,” said Rick Winslow, a Game and Fish Department biologist. “The last years have been high harvests and we don’t feel that’s best for the bears.”
As many as 800 bears were killed in a single year before limits were set.
Larry Lightner, a Silver City resident and avid outdoorsman and hunter, was surprised by the level of the new restrictions.
“I think that’s low,” Lightner said Thursday. “My experience this year is there’s a lot of bears out there. Every time I go out, I see new bear tracks. The problem with the quota, is that if you’re out hunting and they meet their (statewide) quota, you’re up the creek. What are they going to do, take the bear away from you or fine you?
“Quotas are not the way to go, in my opinion,” Lightner added. “I’d rather see a draw system or limit the number of licenses that are out there. Last year it was 2 bears, this year it was one bear. What I’ve found to be true is the numbers are increasing. This year, I have seen more bear sign around Silver City than in the last 10 years — anywhere around here, other than maybe down in the flats. Just last week I was out on an ATV and found three new bears.”
Conservationists were pleased with the limits, however, hound hunters and outfitters said limiting their seasons and putting quotas on the number of bears killed will hurt their sport and businesses.
George Hobbs, a hound hunter from nearby Mimbres, said the new regulations are “way too conservative.”
The commission limited hound hunting, in which dogs chase bears and tree them, to two months in the fall in most of the state.
John Boretsky, representing the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides, told commissioners the quotas “are a nightmare.”
Members of Sandia Mountain BearWatch and the New Mexico Wildlife Federation said the new policy recognizes that there are different bear populations in different mountain ranges throughout the state.
The game commissioners, appointed late last year by Gov. Bill Richardson, threw out a three-year plan adopted by former Gov. Gary Johnson’s commission that expanded bear hunting in the state from 84 days to 106 days.
The commissioners also approved delineating the state into six zones and setting separate bear hunting seasons and bear limits in each region.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Thomas J. Baird can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff "Jesse" James - Owner of Jesse's Hunting & Outdoors
You can always tell who's in 2nd place by who's whining and crying the most. - Old hockey coach.
Dum spiramus tuebimur
Advertise on JHO / Blogs / Fishing Guide/Outfitter reviews / Facebook - JHO / Gear Reviews / Home, Main Page / Hunting Guide/Outfitter Reviews / Links / Online Store / Photo/Video Gallery / Sponsors / Turkey Scratchins blog / Twitter - Follow JHO / YouTube Channel
"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a brave and scarce man, hated and scorned. When the cause succeeds, however, the timid join him... for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." -Mark Twain